Former World Series champion Lolo Lui returns to the Samoan side after a lengthy spell out, while last season’s top try-scorer Mat Turner has recovered from the ankle injury he picked up on the Gold Coast to take his place in the England squad. Australia recall several key players, Gold Coast champions Fiji blood another five newcomers in this World Cup season and Canada make a late change with Justin Douglas coming into the side.
Pool A – NZL, USA, ENG, ESP
– New Zealand hand debuts to Gillies Kaka and Rocky Khan, who is one of five Fijians in the squad and the first Indian Fijian to play for New Zealand.
– USA name an exciting squad to be captained by Mat Hawkins, featuring the recall of Blaine Scully and Andrew Duratalo and the sprinter Carlin Isles.
– England will be hoping that the return of last season’s top try-scorer Mat Turner can help boost their current position of 13th in the Series standings.
– Spain hand one debut to Julen Goia Iriberri and include the season’s top try-scorer, Pedro Martin.
Pool B – FRA, ARG, KEN, TON
– Currently second in the Series standings, France hand a debut to Stephen Parez and welcome back fit-again flyers, Renaud Delmas and Julien Candelon.
– Argentina hand debuts to Javier Rojas and Matias Orlando and will be looking to skipper Nicolas Bruzzone to lead the charge as by far the most experienced member of the squad.
– Kenya coach Mike Friday welcomes back pace men Oscar Ouma and Collins Injera.
– Regional qualifier Tonga hand out four debuts as they gear up for the World Series pre-qualifier in Hong Kong in March.
Pool C – RSA, WAL, SAM, CAN
– South Africa are still without Kyle Brown, Cecil Afrika and Branco du Preez. Skipper Frankie Horne and Chris Dry will lead the forward assault, while Paul Treu hands debuts to Justin Geduld and Seabelo Senatla.
– Wales welcome back Richard Smith into a settled looking side, which features one debutant in Luke Morgan.
– Samoa welcome back a former Wellington Cup final match-winner and World Series champion in Lolo Lui and hand a debut to Anthony Tailua.
– Canada are one of six nations to hand out no debuts, but do recall key men and Rugby World Cup stars in Conor Trainor and Taylor Paris, while the walking wounded in South Africa have all recovered. Justin Douglas a late replacement for Jeff Hassler.
Pool D – POR, FIJ, AUS, SCO
– Portugal are another side with no debutants, but will sorely miss usual captain Frederico Oliveira, Pedro Leal and Aderito Esteves, all of whom have stayed in Europe for a key Rugby World Cup qualifier against Romania.
– Gold Coast champions Fiji hand out a further five debuts to add to the 14 newcomers across the first three rounds.
– Australia coach Michael O’Connor still cannot recall injured captain Ed Jenkins, but Shannon Walker, Allan Fa’alava’au, Jesse Parahi and Lewis Holland do return. Cameron Clarke was a late withdrawal from the squad.
– Former Scotland Sevens coach Stephen Gemmell returns to lead Scotland, who currently lie 15th in the Series standings. Struan Dewar is one player welcomed back to an otherwise settled looking squad.